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Rangers impressed by Tesla Arena crowd

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 5:41 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Rangers impressed by Tesla Arena crowd
The Rangers are used to intense crowds at Madison Square Garden, but they had never seen anything quite like the fans of HC Sparta Prague.
PRAGUE -- The noise behind Martin Biron in the second period Thursday night was unlike anything he's familiar with.

It was an entire section of fans singing songs, chanting and banging on drums. All this despite that their team was in the process of losing a 2-0 game to the New York Rangers.

Biron and the Rangers quickly found out that's just the way they are at Tesla Arena.

Good, bad or indifferent for HC Sparta Prague, the fans are going to make noise.

"It's an incredible experience to be here," Biron said after making 23 saves in his shutout performance. "The fans were great. The dynamics of the game were very unique from what we're used to in North America. The whole second period I had the fan club singing songs over my left shoulder. It was pretty incredible."
 
Biron also noticed that the fans would cheer even when a play went bad for their team. For instance, there was a moment in the second period when they were cheering for a shot that went wide.
 

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They just liked the fact that Sparta had an opportunity. They didn't care that the puck didn't even got on net.
 
"If we made a good defensive play, they cheered even though their home team didn't get the play off," Biron said. "They were cheering the quality of hockey they were seeing and that was great to see."

Even the normally steely-eyed, focused Rangers coach John Tortorella got caught a little caught up in the atmosphere.

"They have fun, don't they," Tortorella asked rhetorically. "It's non-stop. Coaching in the World Championship games and being around here at that time, it's a crowd that is non-stop."

It's not always that way at Madison Square Garden, where the passion of the fans spills both ways, and can get especially harsh if the Rangers aren't playing well.

It was all one way here at Tesla Arena, and that was particularly impressive to the Rangers, who even heard some chants in their favor Thursday night, including one that was for the USA.

"Every second somebody say something, it was completely different," center Artem Anisimov said. "It's a good place with a good atmosphere. If we have good games at MSG the building is loud. Sometimes we have bad games and the building is quiet. Here it's different. Here every second it is loud."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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